Tuesday, September 27, 2005
An updated planning document will guide recreation in part of North Routt County.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners ratified on Tuesday the update draft of the recreation uses and public lands chapter of the Upper Elk River Valley Community plan.
The 6-year-old plan includes the Hahn's Peak and Steamboat Lake State Park area, an increasingly popular spot for snowmobilers.
Residents in the area have complained about noise, odor and overcrowding from snowmobiles. They also expressed concern about people trespassing private land to access parts of Routt National Forest.
The plan does not address specific limitations for motorized-vehicle use in the area.
Lyman Fancher, owner of Columbine Cabins, told commissioners he was hoping the chapter would be a lot more specific.
"The document appears so general and non-specific that I wonder if it can serve as a useful planning document," he said.
Fancher said he is concerned about snowmobilers driving too fast near his cabins.
"High-speed snowmobiles are noisy and dangerous. I recognize it's a huge problem," he said. He also said there might be another way commissioners could deal with the issue.
County officials have decided that the U.S. Forest Service should be involved with snowmobiling regulations. The update originally paralleled the Forest Service's update of its North Routt Winter Recreation Management Plan, but a lack of funding postponed the process.
The county's chapter instead focuses on issues that affect private property and development, including public parking and protection of neighborhoods. The update emphasizes a balance between recreational users' needs and those of residents.
Chad Phillips, the county's assistant director of planning, told commissioners that a common complaint about the draft was the definition of residential neighborhoods, which are recognized as protected areas. The definition is the same one officials use countywide.
Commissioner Nancy Stah-oviak said she was not sure that the county's definition of a neighborhood was the best for this plan.
"Is it appropriate for us to be using that definition in that area?" she asked, noting that people living in rural areas may have a different idea of what a neighborhood is.
But Stahoviak said she was willing to use the county's definition because the plan includes wording that recognizes other residential areas that are not defined as neighborhoods.
Stahoviak and Com-missioner Dan Ellison voted to ratify the chapter. Commissioner Doug Monger was not present for the discussion.